Astro-Cons: When “The Office” Meets “Big Bang Theory”

The 2012 New York Comic Con was in full swing with con goers and cosplayers galore. Snuggled somewhere in the Javits Center show floor is a table whose job it is to lampoon the government.

That table belongs to “Astro-Cons,” a new animated web series designed by Leon Doell and Ben Friedberg. Dressed in a government space ace attire, Doell isn’t your average creator.

“(Astro-Cons) is a weekly web cartoon about a fictitious government agency called the Department of Space and of all the insane bureaucracy that they deal with working for the federal government,” said Doell. “It’s a bit of a workplace comedy. Lot of pop culture, geek culture references that I make sure to put in there. Lot of 80s references.”

This may sound like something anyone can up with, but for Doell it goes deeper than that because of personal experience.

“Ten years of living in Washington DC definitely helped. I’m a huge fan of what’s going on in space technology and space sciences,” said Doell. “Being that close to all the Smithsonians and stuff I’ve made sure to check that stuff out. A good combination of living in the district and seeing what all my friends go through working in the different government jobs.”

When watching “Astro-Cons,” the comedy and style will ring familiar to many. It’s what makes a good web comic series. Every artist, even the great ones, has some influences. “Astro-Cons” gleans from some of the best like “Welcome to Creepyvile” and “South Park.”

“As a child from the 80s there’s so much amazing stuff that came out of there,” said Doell. “I mean, ‘Back to the Future,’ the comedy in that. Genius. ‘Better Off Dead.’ All those kind of flicks I love.”

“It’s been about a five-year project,” Doell notes about the show’s production. “It’s been on and off the shelf for about four years and last year my executive producer Ben Friedberg and I actually started working on it. He used to be one my clients from one of my old jobs. We started a production company, and I sent him my scripts. Went back and forth and ‘Astro-Cons’ started production last January. It’s been a lot of back and forth.”

Laughing at the government and, eventually, the 2012 presidential election and a slew of other topics, Doell and Friedberg have fun writing the scripts. The first episode aired just recently and has pop culture references galore. Doell definitely mirrors the timbre of the show as he shouts crazy lines from the show and USA at passersby during Comic Con.

People may wonder about the show though. How does NASA fit into their grand scheme of things?

“We’re more lampooning the government than NASA because I have too much respect for what they’re doing and how epic they are,” said Doell. “They just blasted Will I Am’s music on Mars. I don’t know if you’ve heard this exactly. It’s the first song to be played on Mars. So maybe, if NASA’s cool with it, they can maybe play ‘Astro-Cons’ on Mars so we can be the first intergalactic cartoon. Just saying.”

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Rocco Sansone

Rocco Sansone is a “man of many interests.” These include anime/manga, video games, tabletop RPGs, YA literature, 19th century literature, the New York Rangers, and history. Among the things and places he would like to see before he dies are Japan, half of Europe, and the New York Rangers win another Stanley Cup.

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Rocco Sansone is a “man of many interests.” These include anime/manga, video games, tabletop RPGs, YA literature, 19th century literature, the New York Rangers, and history. Among the things and places he would like to see before he dies are Japan, half of Europe, and the New York Rangers win another Stanley Cup.

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